Another election year is upon us and we can get tired of hearing and seeing all the political ads and signs campaigning for (or against) specific politicians and policies. By this time, most voters have probably already made up their mind; many voters have already cast their ballot in early voting either by mail or at drop off centers. But I think it is still good for each of us to reflect again with a Catholic perspective when it comes to how we vote.
It is not helpful to get so caught up in defending one particular party that we overlook or ignore its faults. There are no perfect parties and there are no perfect candidates. We have all sinned, and we all need the grace of God and the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (cf. Rom 3:23-24). This is part of the reason the Church prays daily for our politicians and leaders throughout the world. May God bless them and help them grow in Faith, Hope, and Charity.
It is important for each voter to know the policies of those for whom they will be voting. It is good for us to truly evaluate those policies in light of our Catholic faith and social teachings. We should not simply assume it is good policy because it is what “my candidate” supports. There are many policies that might sound good but on closer examination are impossible to obtain, unreasonable to enact, or simply found ineffective in the past. Being an informed voter is a responsibility that we all share.
There is another category that must also be considered when evaluating policies: the moral weight of that issue. It is not enough to simply look at which candidate has more policies that land in the “positive” category (or conversely, fewer policies in the “negative” category), but those issues must be weighed against each other as well. Though the Church does not have a comprehensive ranking of all issues according to their moral weight, she does offer some insight and guidance while leaving room for honest debate amongst theologians and scholars. Scripture constantly reminds us that we are to seek first the Kingdom of God (cf. Mt 6:33). Things or policies which would hinder the practice of faith or lead us or others away from God should be avoided or averted as much as possible.
Life is one of the issues that carries significant moral weight. It is foundational, and it is meant to be cherished and protected at every stage. We should easily see how it outweighs almost every other issue. Imagine a candidate that would offer everything you wanted in a politician, but it comes at the cost of you and everyone else in Stearns County being killed. We would never vote for that person. What benefit would there be to gain the whole world, but forfeit your soul? (cf. Mt 16:26).
The moral weight of protecting life should never be downplayed or ignored. Those who would justify taking the life of innocents will eventually justify anything to get what they want. We must stand firm in protecting especially those in the womb who are most vulnerable and unable to speak for themselves. This does not make anyone a “single-issue voter,” it is rather an acknowledgment of the weight this issue has in comparison to most others.
Please take seriously your responsibility to be an informed voter and let your faith guide you in all that you do. Also continue to work to correct the faults and poor policies of whichever candidate or party wins when the election is over. And remember that while we may vote as citizens of the United States of America, we seek first and foremost to be citizens of the Kingdom of God.
-- Fr. Timothy